35 Thousand recognised books… and counting

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James Brooke became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841 after inheriting £30,000 and investing it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailing for Borneo. 

We are publishing a blog series that covers his adventures – taken from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1848 – Turning Point

Leaving Sulu, we called in at Samboangan, and had a very agreeable time with the acquaintances we had previously made there. We saw how little the Spaniards had done to develop the immense island of Mindanau. Here and there on the coast were some small settlements, with cultivation extending but a few miles inland, but there was a great air of neatness about the places dotted along the coast.

On our return voyage we touched at Labuan, and then went on to Sarawak, where we found H.M.’s brig Albatross, Commander Farquhar, and the Royalist, Lieutenant-Commander Everest. The Nemesis proceeded on to Singapore, but soon rejoined us.

The expedition which was now organised was the largest that ever left the non-piratical districts for the punishment of the marauders. Besides the steamer Nemesis, we had the boats of the Albatross and Royalist, and about one hundred native prahus, manned by between three and four thousand men. I have in another work so fully described this expedition that I will not give a fresh account, but content myself with a summary of our proceedings. As a turning point in the history of the coast it will ever be remembered, not only as the greatest blow that was ever struck at Dyak piracy, and practically its destruction, but also because it led to the great misfortune that Sir James Brooke considered it necessary to retire from the public service, a step which was forced upon him by the weakness of Lord Aberdeen’s Government and the malice of his enemies.

On the 24th July [1849] the Nemesis started with the Royalist, the Ranee tender, and seven English boats in tow, and we followed in the evening with our powerful native contingent. The campaign, as planned by the authorities, was to proceed up the great river of Rejang, and attack the pirate communities from inland; but on our way to the mouth of that river we received information that ninety-eight Seribas war boats had pulled along the coast towards our point of rendezvous, the Rejang. It was instantly decided that on its return we should attempt to intercept this fleet, and our force was divided into two squadrons, one to guard the entrance of the Seribas, the other the mouth of the next river to the north, the Kaluka.

Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John

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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner

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